(gorl) QUESTION: If I get the message of Karezza correctly, orgasms during the first one or two years in a relationship are strong bonding factors. After that it gets messy with the prolactin-based behaviours that steers us towards separation. I'm wondering what should be the most proficient algorithm in a brand new relationship? How about forming a deep bond with the help of conventional sex for a year (play it safe:) ), then switch to karezza method? What do you think?
(Marnia) Hmm...no, I wouldn't say orgasms are necessarily bonding. Rather they can support a mutual...well...dependence, in the addictive sense. Each partner is using the other for a "fix." Actual addictions hijack this same brain machinery, which evolved for sensitizing us to sexual arousal - so we remember and want to repeat this pro-fertilization behavior.
And biology further conspires with this process by keeping us jacked up on excitory "honeymoon" neurochemicals for a while (maximum two years), making the natural neurochemical fallout from orgasm seem worth the prize of continued fixes.
But the whole system is rather unstable, and you don't get a 2-year "free pass" by any means...or there would never be one-night stands. I say 'unstable' because there are neurochemical ripples after these magnificent climaxes, and they shift feelings and perceptions - even of each other. And what if your partner doesn't want to deliver the goods when you're feeling most needy (horny)? Resentment, manipulation, defensiveness and irritability/overreactions are quite common. Crazy behavior followed by passionate making up is typical in newer lovers. Here's a pretty good description from a book published in 1949 (before neuroscience had even begun to unravel the mysteries of neurotransmitters and their role in sex - the author, a doctor, ascribes changes to sex hormones instead):
Mimi and Rudolf were first brought to my attention in 1928 in a cafe, a rendezvous for artists, in the Boulevard Clichy in Paris. Henry P., who was with me, pointed them out as an exceptionally attractive couple who had no need of the services of a sexologist. Their story was well known in the Quarter. It had been a case of love at first sight. The man was a penniless author but Mimi lived with him in great happiness and devotion in spite of the most squalid circumstances.
Henry P. had barely finished describing their idyllic relationship when the couple began to quarrel violently. Their voices rose until hundreds of spectators were watching the drama. Finally, trembling and pale, Mimi left the cafe announcing that she had had enough and was not coming back. "That's all right with me!" yelled the author, hurling his drink after her.
At my request, Henry P. brought the agitated man to our table and left us. After a brief, angry outbreak Rudolf calmed down. The story he told could well provide the material missing between the second and third acts of Puccini's La Boheme. In the beginning, he said, Mimi had been an incomparable sweetheart. But, after two or three months she became extremely quarrelsome; every word he spoke irritated her. After a particularly violent scene she left him, to return after a few days. Reconciliation, beautiful days of happiness, and then the tension started again, increased and ended in another tremendous row and separation. This had happened repeatedly. But this time, he assured me, they were through with each other. Thank God, now he could write again undisturbed!
When I asked what caused the friction, he could not give me a single, plausible reason. Nothing but trifles. My professional interest aroused, I enquired about their sex relations.
I was assured that nothing could be more satisfactory. He willingly told me every detail of his love life with Mimi. They reacted to each other so strongly that, even before they began an intercourse, Mimi would come to an orgasm. He had never been so happy in his life with any other girl.
It seemed clear to me that there was no need for this couple, so passionately and spontaneously attracted, to follow the first demand of my six rules: Preparation. But their violation of two other rules [Duration and Frequency] might very well account for the temperamental ups and downs in their relations. Their intercourse was extremely frequent and of brief duration.
I tried to convince Rudolf that these two mistakes increased the tension in both of them and that the great drain upon his sperm cells reduced his hormone production, and consequently his capacity for work. At this he became angry and even hostile. He declared that love cannot be imprisoned in laws, that if I wished to consider him an undisciplined Bohemian artist, that was all right with him, but as such he demanded freedom in his love life. To try to press love into rules was ridiculous. He left in anger, and I little expected that he would ever become a pupil of mine.
When Henry P. then returned I recounted the discussion. Henry agreed with Rudolf. Two young people passionately in love with each other will not and cannot follow commands and rules in love-making, he maintained. To attempt to do so would repress all spontaneity, naturalness, abandon. "Kiss eight minutes, embrace twelve minutes, lie touching thirty minutes! It's ridiculous!" he said. "It turns love into military drill."
I agreed that, put that way, it sounded ridiculous, but I asked how long he thought the "batteries" of these two people would last and if he knew the usual end of such passionate love affairs. The partners have a kind of tense, jittery restlessness, but actually they are exhausted; their irritation leads in the end to hate. I said the hangover after sex excess is often more damaging than one after alcohol. Sharp decrease of sex hormones causes loss of energy, vigor, happiness and, eventually, love.
Henry maintained that all love affairs had a similar result and quoted the saying, "Venus comes happy but goes away sad." It was his impression that couples who are happy together, sexually, wear themselves out, and those who aren't happy, sexually, devote their energies to other things. He thought that Rudolf and Mimi were happier, over-indulging, than other people who live more regularly.
His error lay, I protested, in thinking that there are only two choices, too little and too much. When intercourse is performed with adequate duration and proper frequency the partners feel a deep satisfaction, relaxation, tenderness and love for each other afterwards. Their desire for sex union then, as a rule, is not renewed for several days. Instead, a close bodily contact suffices. They find it delightful just to sleep in each other's arms.
I gave it as my opinion that Rudolf prided himself upon being a wild, unrestrained, Bohemian lover. He wanted vividness, passion, fire, and was too much a child to heed the consequences. There are primitive tribes which could teach him refinement and taste in sex, however great an artist he may be with words. He may insist on going his own way but we had seen where it leads: to scenes, quarrels and hypertension. I reminded my listener of Rudolf's remark that now that Mimi had left him, at least he could write again! Why could he not write before?
Because he loved her so passionately that he could not think when she was with him, Henry believed. She took all his attention.
I disagreed. Not all his attention, all his energy, I maintained. The brain cells are part of the same body that produces sex energy. His sex life would not weaken him if it were well-performed. On the contrary, he would be more vigorous, animated, and stimulated.
Henry ridiculed the suggestion that sex needs to be cultivated like the other arts. Ironically he asked me would I recommend that the English should have a Lover Laureate and the French an Institute of the Erotic Arts.
I replied that this might be better then the stupidity, ignorance, and tragic blunders that one sees on all sides, and tried to convince him that my advice regarding sex practice is not so ridiculous if a couple wants to conserve and even to increase their love for each other and become relaxed and happy.
Looking back at my own experience, and that of others who have shared theirs, I would say the the most promising algorithm might be never to force orgasm, and to make love frequently (slowly and affectionately) without it...right from the start of the relationship. My guess is that such a course would help shift the relationship gently away from dependence to deeper bonding based on attachment cues. (Article about true bonding behaviors: The Lazy Way to Stay in Love
Article about honeymoon neurochemistry: Will Orgasms Keep You in Love?
(wfk007) During the honeymoon phase, I really didn't notice the O (orgasm) effect like I do after years of marriage. During the early part of our relationship, I never tired of having sex. It was all exciting for months.
But later, what Cupid's Poisoned Arrow says really clicked. Don't get me wrong, I still loved my wife, but I felt different. My brain wanted to try different partners just for the sex, not for a relationship. Sex with my wife became less exciting, and O led to the hangover effect (that I didn't understand until recently). My wife reported the exact same reaction: O also causes her to separate a bit from me and drops her sex interest.
While I didn't actually seek out a new partner, I did seek out porn which turned into a new virtual partner. That led me down a road where I had the hangover all the time.
Now that I stopped, the feeling is amazing (no porn + karezza). So if we now have an O, we will be less interested in each other. If we do karezza, we are interested in it every night. When we first met, we wanted O each night and it didn't seem to affect us. I'm convinced that was the honeymoon period.
(Marnia) The tension between our biological programs (desire to pair bond versus desire to spread genes with a novel mate) is why our pair bonds are often so fragile. It’s hard to spot this problem in a new romance, because lovers are jacked up on extra, potent neurochemicals. Just a few words about the neurochemical reality behind the "honeymoon neurochemisty" phenomenon: It includes (1) extra nerve growth factor, adrenaline and dopamine; (2) higher or lower testosterone (higher than normal in women and lower than normal in men, helping to harmonize libidos); and (3) lower than normal serotonin, which is why lovers tend to obsess over each other. Once this booster shot wears off—within a year or two at the latest—cracks often appear. Why? Because the underlying neurochemical cycle after climax is no longer veiled, and related perception shifts after orgasm become more pronounced. Not everyone experiences it, but apparently the overwhelming majority of us do.